Mangaluru: Will the discontent and anti-incumbency against sitting Dakshina Kannada BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel tilt the scales in favour of the debutant Congress candidate Mithun Rai in this election? Or will the Modi wave sweep away all irritants and ensure that Kateel returns as MP of the coastal constituency for a third time?
Dakshina Kannada is no doubt witnessing interesting developments increasing the election heat. Despite the region being a stronghold of saffron outfits, the internal opposition to BJP candidate Nalin Kumar Kateel and the unhappiness among a section of the people is a point of concern which the BJP is trying to set right. Sources in the party agree that the fight this time could be tough but are confident that their saviour would be the Modi factor and the margin will be more than last time.
“People want a nationalist prime minister and want to see Modi as PM again. For this, they will support the BJP candidate here. The sitting MP has brought more than 16,000 crore in various projects to the region. The Modi factor along with Nalin’s work will help us win the election,” BJP spokesperson Harikrishna Bantwal said.
He also mocked at the ‘soft Hindutva’ approach of the Congress. “In Ramayana, Ravana wore saffron to abduct Sita. Congressmen wearing saffron shawls is something like this but they will fail in their attempt,” he added.
Meanwhile the Congress which has learnt a lesson or two from past elections, has made some ‘innovative moves,’ this time. After four decades, the party has fielded a new face, Youth Congress chief Mithun Rai as its candidate. It’s adoption of a ‘soft Hindutva’ approach was evident when Mithun Rai was seen sporting a saffron shawl and chanting shlokas.
Congress leaders are also concentrating on Puttur, Sullia and Belthangady seats which usually provide more votes to the BJP. In addition to this, the party is trying to make best use of the failures of sitting MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and also the unhappiness against Modi rule.
The soft Hindutva approach is aimed at attracting disgruntled workers, especially from the Billava community who play an active role in pro-Hindutva activities and form a strong base of the BJP. Congress sources also point to the unhappiness among BJP workers against Kateel which has deterred many of them from actively participating in the campaign. “We are witnessing a big change in the constituency, there is an undercurrent against BJP. People want a young leader to lead them. We are hopeful that we will emerge successful,” said Dakshina Kannada in-charge minister U.T. Khader.
But the peddling of a soft Hindutva strategy by the Congress could leave the traditional minority and secular voters disenchanted and they could support the SDPI candidate, said sources. “We are witnessing a great deal of support for our candidate Ilyas Mohammed Thumbay especially among Muslims, Christians, backward classes and progressive thinkers. It is we who are fighting the BJP and not the Congress,” SDPI Dakshina Kannada president Athavulla Jokatte claimed....